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Gardai invoke lockdown laws 192 times

There have been 64 recorded incidents of spitting and coughing against officers.

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Gardai including armed detectives mount coronavirus checkpoints on the border with Northern Ireland at Carrickarnon Co Louth (PA)

Gardai including armed detectives mount coronavirus checkpoints on the border with Northern Ireland at Carrickarnon Co Louth (PA)

Gardai including armed detectives mount coronavirus checkpoints on the border with Northern Ireland at Carrickarnon Co Louth (PA)

Gardai have arrested or taken the details of 192 people for failing to adhere to Covid-19 lockdown laws.

Officers also recorded 64 separate incidents of spitting and coughing against gardai.

New data published by An Garda Siochana show that enforcing the Covid-19 health regulations account for a “tiny proportion” of engagements with the public.

New powers were given to gardai last month to enforce the regulations.

The force says it has adopted a graduated policing response based on its tradition of policing by consent.

Officers said that only a small minority of people across the country were still not willing to take steps to comply with the public health guidelines.

From April 8, which was when the regulations came into effect, until May 9, Gardai invoked the regulations 192 times out of hundreds of thousands of interactions with the public.

These include both arrests and incidents without arrest where name and address details were taken for consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on the decision to issue charges.

Of the 192 incidents, two were as a result of an instruction from a relevant medical professional.

In all cases where arrests were made under the regulations, members of An Garda Siochana consulted with the DPP on the decision to charge.

Some of these incidents are already before the courts.

In addition, pre-existing enforcement powers were used in 1,432 incidents where other offences were disclosed in the course of Covid-19 operations.

These range from incidents such as drink driving or disqualified drivers detected at checkpoints, to drugs and weapons seizures to public order offences.

The number of incidents involving other suspected crimes continues to far exceed the number of cases involving only breaches of Government restrictions.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said: “We thank the public for the continued high level of compliance with the health guidelines.

“Working together, we can reduce the spread of Covid-19 to help protect our family, friends, neighbours and colleagues.

“At the outset of the Covid-19 situation, I said that An Garda Siochana will continue to operate as a community-based policing service with a focus on protecting the vulnerable.

“This approach will not change.

“Recent independent surveys show very high levels of public satisfaction with how gardai is operating in this challenging situation.

“This is testament to the work being done by garda personnel across the country in difficult circumstances.”

From April 8 until May 9, there were 64 incidents of spitting and/or coughing against officers.

From April 8 until May 9, gardai had to use anti-spit guards 47 times.

Mr Harris added: “Unfortunately, we continue to see these disgusting and despicable spitting and coughing attacks on our personnel.

“These are a significant health and safety risk to our members in the current environment.

“We must protect them from such attacks.

“This includes having the option of using anti-spit guards in very limited circumstances.

“We have made it clear these anti-spit guards are only to be used as last resort and in line with the Garda decision-making model, which includes at its centre human rights and our code of ethics.”

PA